Make-Up Club (Ghent), 7/11/2009
Are you familiar with the name Mayer Hawthorne? I first saw the name popping up on on a fellow blogger with exquisite taste On Point already a few months ago. After a quick research I found out that Mayer Hawthorne is pretty much amazing.
When you listen to his debut album ‘A Strange Arrangement’ released by the Stones Throw label you might expect everything but a white nerdy singer with big glasses. If you’re into Motown vibes, 70’s soul, some Barry White from time to time and Curtis Mayfield, you might really like Mayer. Like. Réally. Old Soul with that New Sound. (Or for the real music lovers: Holland-Dozier-Holland and Smokey Robinson are some of Mayers’ many major influences.)
Mayer Hawthorne is a man (At least that’s what they say when a man hits 30) with roots in Detroit that can proudly state that he wrote, produced and played every instrument in his album himself…. He might look like your nerdy neighbour in math class, but do not be mistaken, this man is a loyal J Dilla fan and all over hiphop lover and even spins records under his DJ alias Haircut. Apparently he is still a little underground, because I really thought that he was already a ‘known’ artist but I came across a lot of people who actually never heard of him.
So if all of the above, still does not make any bells ring, I suggest you watch this:
Needless to say, when he was booked to play in Ghents Make-Up Club, ‘Miss Thang’ was going to be present. The moment we arrived at the club Jules and I started working. Very quickly we noticed a familiar staff member face going in and out of the club. We went straight to the man and asked if he could help us to get backstage since we never did a concert in Make Up and we had no clue where the backstage was. After brief consideration he took us outside, to enter a dark doorway a couple of meters of the Make-Up Club entrance. He told us to wait, while he was getting the manager. Wow. Smooth like butter. After 3 minutes he came back, accompanied by a charming fella that was supposed to be Mayer’s manager, Jackson. (For some reason, my brain misunderstood that part, and I ended up calling him Michael the entire night, way to go!!)
Again, with a trembling voice I explained the concept of my blog and showed him the former artists on my iTouch. While explaining I noticed Mayer passing us by. Professional as we are, both Jules and I completely ignored him and focused on the manager. (This was not the time to react all “OW THAT’S MAYER HAWTHORNE, HELLOOWWW”) “So, interrupt me, if I’m wrong, but basically, your stories get more interesting, the harder the artist is to reach…?” Jackson asked me. Fuck. I should have kept my mouth shut about how hard to get Method Man and Rahzel were at the time. “Uhm,” I replied with caution, “that might be correct, but things don’t have to be difficult àll the time right…..?” Sometimes, a girl deserves things going smoothly! “Well, maybe you should come back àfter the concert and then we will see…ok?” He smiled and went back into the backstage area.
Did we just digg or own grave…? When we went back to the club, we had a good feeling about our chances, but then again, you never know… And then, it was time for Mayer Hawthorne & The County. (The County is his band) I’m really glad I saw him in the deep dark raw underground basement of the Make-Up Club rather than a regular concert venue.
For some reason, the surroundings were perfect for his vibe and I really enjoyed his concert and there was à lot of Mayer love in the Make-Up club. Get it. Love/Make-up? Cheesy… I know, I know. My ultimate favorite was ‘Green Eyed Love’, I just lòve that song, it’s simple, sexy and you understand the aching pain in it.
I’m completely addicted to the Classixx Remix that takes me right into an old 70’s disco in Ibiza where everybody is dancing in slow motion.
But that’s just me. The audience’s love for Mayer was official when Mayer got some pink pantyhose handed over to him. He kindly accepted this pink little gift and gave it a well deserved place on stage.
After the concert, we waited 15 minutes, since asking for pictures right àfter a concert will mostly turn out in to a big NJET. I noticed Jackson behind a Mayer merchandise booth with a pile of A Strange Arrangement records and Mayer t-shirts and when he noticed me, he nodded and asked me to wait a couple of minutes. After 5 more minutes he guided us back backstage and quickly briefed Mayer and his band members. After his official “Its Ok, you can go in now” it was showtime…..! We went in backstage, introduced ourselves and shook hands with Mayer and his band. While I immediately focused on Mayer, Jules got acquainted with The County. So, ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the lovely members of…
(Watch out for their subtle stage cardigan outfit with the small giraf)
Quincy (KEYS) confirming that he is a good boy
Topher (GUITAR) confirming backstage clichés
Joe Zebra (BASS) confirming fly-ness
Quinten (DRUMS) confirming his fear for the camera
As usual, I explained Mayer my project and went through my former artists with him while he was relaxed and sipping on some well deserved Hennessy. Pictionary Quiz!! I love it when I got that brief and much wanted attention from the artist.
When we were done looking at the pictures, (he had a preference for the Pharrell one) I asked him if I could take a picture of him aswell…. The moment he said “YES” it was time for me to WORK. I immediately checked the backstage area for a clean wall and again, that was too much to ask. A small black area, a golden door with a poster, a white wall with ugly writing all over it and that was it. I suggested to take one with The County on the white wall, but Mayer wasn’t really feeling that one and suggested the black wall. This is not the time for the careful remark that a black wall with mostly black silhouettes is not a very good idea, so I agreed. (Although Black on Black gives very bad Polaroid results…)
I started to moe around little black sofas, a couple of backpacks, a table and huge travel bags. They all looked at me, like I completely lost my mind and said: “Waw…you are creating a set and all….” I smiled and replied: “After taking pictures of SA RA in the smallest backstage room from HELL, I tend to redecorate, if I have the chance.” So, after 5 minutes of redecorating, I placed the band with Mayer in a nice order and was ready for the first picture:
After that was done, I ripped a poster off a nice golden wall and placed Mayer before it. He already envisioned how his Polaroid was going to look like, which explains the banana and said: “Count me off, ok!”
3.2.1. Flashing. Lights. Bingo!
For the second picture, I asked him (since his album and songs and his videos are mostly about love) to give me the famous heart sign with his fingers. He frowned and responded with concern: “I’m not really sure If I want to do that, I’m not so into Love and Hearts.” I wasn’t really expecting that answer since I’ve seen numerous press pictures with hearts on tiles, his “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” song is pressed on a heart shaped record , but maybe he got sick of the love image and clearly decided he wasn’t gonna push that button anymore. “Okay then, no problem, do whatever you want to do then.” I replied. “I will give you my jerk pose, since most of the times I’m a jerk really.” he told me very seriously. Ok then.
3.2.1. Flashing. Lights. Bingo.
(I secretly think he stole that pose from my Pharrell Polaroid…)
You know we’re into details, so for my sneaker freaks I can confirm that Mayer is sporting Jordans (Nr 3)
And Topher likes to customize:
We ended the night smoking a doobie, discussing Kim Clijsters, Henin and Belgium tennis with Joe (he was a trained tennis teacher) and said our goodbyes. I thanked Jackson again for his cooperation and kindness and we left the club while DJ Haircut was spinning his final tunes. For the ones that did not know Mayer Hawthorne & The County, I truly hope this introduction got you triggered since I am sure, you will be hearing from them sooner than later. (I heard through the grapevine that a Snoop Dogg and Mayer collaboration is a done deal…)
PS: Oh that’s right! You were wondering what happened with those pantyhose! Tsss. Naugty….!! Well…no more love for the pantyhose, they were last spotted on dark corner of the stage….